Weeks 18 & 19 Schedule: Games Played
5 Games: BKN, BOS, DEN, DET, HOU, LAC, NOP, PHX, WAS
4 Games: ATL, CHA, CHI, DAL, GSW, IND, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NYK, OKC, PHI, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA
3 Games: DAL, LAL, ORL
The All-Star Break
In case you missed it, your fantasy matchup for Week 18 will run through Week 19 because the All-Star break provides a “break” in the schedule, with games ceasing to be played from Thursday, February 17 - Thursday, February 24, while the league takes a pause to enjoys the All-Star festivities. This two-week matchup comes with a twist, though, as weekly moves limits will not reset for Week 19, so it’s important to be extra judicious when making streamer/add decisions over the next few weeks. With the Mavs, Lakers and Magic only playing three times over this two-week stretch, the streaming options on those teams are rather unattractive.
Incoming Post Deadline Debuts
There are a handful of players who have yet to make their debuts after getting traded on deadline day, and they are as follows:
Kristaps Porzingis – KP hasn’t played since January 29, but Wizards’ GM Tommy Shepard said last week that The Unicorns D.C. debut should come “soon,” so it sounds like he’s mostly recovered from the right knee bone bruise. It’ll be interesting to see if he starts at power forward or center, but either way, his arrival is likely bad news for Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant and Daniel Gafford. As for KP, I think he could be a monster in D.C., he just needs to stay healthy.
James Harden – Harden’s trade to Philly was officially finalized on Sunday, but he’s still recovering from his hamstring issue, so he will not make his 76ers’ debut until after the All-Star break and will not play in the All-Star game. However, once he is cleared I’d expect him to start alongside Tyrese Maxey in Philly’s backcourt, and while Maxey will likely take a hit with Harden’s arrival, I don’t think his fantasy value will completely drop off a cliff. Harden should fit in fine with the 76ers, so I’m not concerned about his value there, if anything, he might see an uptick in efficiency with more floor spacers around him. I’m eagerly looking forward to watching the two-man game between The Beard and The Process, Joel Embiid. Tobias Harris is another guy whose value could dip a bit with the Harden addition, but he tends to find ways to put up stats regardless of what team he’s on or who is around him, so I’m not terribly concerned about him, either.
Andre Drummond / Seth Curry – Expect these two to make their Brooklyn debuts on Tuesday vs. the Kings, and it’ll be interesting to see if Steve Nash immediately inserts them into the starting lineup. LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) and Nicolas Claxton (hamstring) will also be available for Tuesday’s game, so we’ll get a look at what the center rotation will look like. I think Claxton takes the largest hit with Drummond’s addition, and if LMA is stuck in a reserve role fighting for minutes with Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe, his value will likely dip as well. The only thing going for Aldridge is that Brooklyn needs his scoring, so I’m less concerned about him as I am about Claxton. As for Curry, I don’t think he’ll have any issues fitting in with the Nets and while he will likely be starting ahead of Cam Thomas, as we saw on Sunday, Thomas is perfectly capable of producing solid value in a Sixth Man role – so I’m not particularly worried about Thomas. In fact, I think he should be rostered in more than just 29% of Yahoo! Leagues.
Ben Simmons’ Brooklyn debut will likely take a bit longer to get to, as he hasn’t played professional basketball since the 76ers were eliminated by the Hawks in Game 7 of the Conference Semi-Finals on June 20, 2021. He has reportedly been working out on his own, but he was not practicing with the 76ers, and nothing can truly simulate the stamina one needs to play in an NBA game. Not to mention that it’s unclear if he’s now “mentally ready” to play, so he may be brought along slowly. Still, I think that Simmons landed in an excellent spot in Brooklyn, and he shouldn’t have much trouble putting up top-50 numbers once he is fully up to speed.
Marvin Bagley – Bagley is not being listed on the injury report for Monday’s game vs. the Wizards, so it appears he’s recovered from the left ankle sprain and will be making his Pistons’ debut in D.C. He technically has the opportunity for a larger role in Detroit than what he had in Sacramento, but it’s also tough to see the defensively challenged Bagley earning 30 minutes a night for the notorious curmudgeon, Dwane Casey. I think he’ll see minutes in the low-20s helping back up Jerami Grant and Isaiah Stewart, so I don’t see him being much more than a low-end asset in deep leagues. He should be good for some points and boards, but he’s an inefficient scorer and rarely brings any stocks to the stat sheet. Kelly Olynyk’s minutes will likely further dip upon Bagley’s arrival, so I wouldn’t hesitate to send The Lunch Lady to the waiver wire.
Spencer Dinwiddie – Dinwiddie’s Mavericks’ debut could come as soon as Tuesday in Miami, but considering how much he was struggling as the starting point guard in D.C., with almost no competition for touches – it’s tough to see him turning things around in Dallas. It’ll be interesting to see if Jason Kidd goes with a three-guard backcourt featuring Dinwiddie, Jalen Brunson and Luka Doncic, but I’m concerned about Brunson’s value with the addition of Dinwiddie and I think Reggie Bullock will take a serious hit.
Dennis Schroder – Schroder had fallen out of favor in Boston, so I was ecstatic to see him land in Houston at the deadline, where he should see nothing but opportunity whether he’s starting or coming off the bench. He signed a one-year, show-me deal this summer for about $5.9 million, which was significantly less than he was hoping for, so he has some incentive to ball out down the stretch for the Rockets. He could see a similar boost to what Kelly Olynyk saw last year upon his arrival to H-Town, so congrats if you held him through the hard times. Eric Gordon’s value will likely dip a bit with Dennis’ addition, though.
Brissett recorded his second straight double-double through 37 minutes as a starter on Sunday, tallying 22 points (9-of-18 FG, 1-of-3 FT), 13 rebounds, two assists, three triples, two blocks and two turnovers in a loss to the Wolves. He looks like one of the biggest deadline winners simply by staying put while key guys were shipped off elsewhere, so he could have a repeat of last year’s miraculous late-season run. As a reminder, Brissett compiled averages of 13.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 2.0 triples, 1.1 steals, 1.2 blocks and just 0.6 turnovers on 46.9% shooting from the field and 75.8% at the stripe on 3.9 FTA over the final month of the 2020-21 season. Indiana doesn’t really have anyone to truly challenge him for minutes at the four-spot, so he’s worth a look in most leagues.
Jalen Smith has also been solid since landing with the Pacers, putting in averages of 14.5 poins, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 triples, 0.5 steals, 1.0 block and just 1.5 turnovers on 64.7% shooting from the field and 66.7% at the line on 3.0 FTA over the past two games, so he’s someone to think about grabbing in deep leagues. It is worth noting that he’s been doing this sans Isaiah Jackson, but still, he showed solid flashes when given quality minutes in Phoenix and I-Jaxx just can’t seem to shake his ankle injury, so Smith is also looking like an attractive add in most formats.
Zach LaVine traveling to L.A. to meet with a knee specialist
Zach LaVine has been experiencing discomfort in his surgically repaired left knee for the past several weeks, and while an MRI in January revealed no structural damage, there is reportedly some concern within the organization with how he can’t seem to shake this injury. He struggled with his shot over 37 minutes in Friday’s win over the Timberwolves, going just 5-of-14 from the floor and 1-of-3 at the stripe, and then he skipped Saturday’s win over the Thunder. It seems unlikely that we’ll see him take the floor again until after the All-Star break, which will result in DeMar DeRozan lifting a heavy load on offense and both Coby White (47%) and Ayo Dosunmu (55%) are worth grabbing where they’re available.
Hopefully, this is something that LaVine will be able to power through, and perhaps the All-Star break will give his knee the rest it needs. The positive spin here is that Chicago is currently sitting on the No. 2 seed out East, so there’s far less incentive for LaVine to shut things down. He could be a headache to have on your roster during the fantasy playoffs, though.
Weeks 18-19 Back-to-Backs:
Sunday (Feb.14th)-Monday: N/A
Monday-Tuesday: LAC, MIL, NOR
Tuesday-Wednesday: ATL, BOS, IND, MEM, MIN, PHX
Wednesday-Thursday: BKN, HOU, WAS
All-Star Break: Feb. 18th-Feb. 23rd
Thursday (Feb. 24th)-Friday: OKC, PHX
Friday-Saturday: MIA, SAS, TOR, WAS
Saturday-Sunday: BOS, DEN, DET